Swami Anand

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Swami Anand (8 September 1887 – 25 January 1976)[1] was a monk, a Gandhian activist and a Gujarati writer. He is remembered as the manager of Gandhi's publications such as Navajivan and Young India and for having inspired Gandhi to pen his autobiography, The Story of My Experiments with Truth.[2] In 1969, he was conferred the Sahitya Akademi Award for Gujarati language for his work Kulkathao.[3]


Early life[edit]

Swami Anand was born as Himmatlal Ramchandra Dave on 8 September 1887 at Shiyani village near Wadhwan. He was brought up and educated at Bombay. He took a vow of renunciation while still in his teens, took on the name Swami Anandnand and became a monk with the Ramakrishna Mission.[1][4] Anand's entry into the freedom movement was through his association with the revolutionaries of Bengal in 1907. Later, he worked in the Kesari, the Marathi newspaper founded by Bal Gangadhar Tilak.[5]

Gandhi's associate[edit]

Gandhi first met Anand in Bombay on 10 January 1915 the day after he had returned from South Africa for good.[6] Gandhi launched his weekly, the Navjeevan from Ahmedabad four years later. Its inaugural issue came out in September 1919 and soon the workload increased. It was at this juncture that Gandhi sent for Anand to become the manager of the publication. Swami Anand took over its management in late 1919. He proved to be a good editor and manager and when the Young India was launched, he moved the publication to larger premises and with printing equipment donated by Mohammed Ali Jouhar, its publication began.[7]

Gandhi's autobiography was serialised in the Navjeevan from 1925 – 1928. It was written by Gandhi at Swami Anand's insistence and an English translation of these chapters appeared in installments in the Young India as well.[8][9] Later, The Bhagavad Gita According to Gandhi was published based on the talks Gandhi gave at the Satyagraha Ashram in Ahmedabad in 1926.[10] Swami Anand played a role in inspiring Gandhi to write this work as well.[11]

He was Vallabhai Patel's secretary during the Bardoli Satyagraha of 1928. He also worked with the tribals of Bordi in Gujarat and, following Partition in 1947, amongst refugees from Sialkot and Hardwar.[5] At Bordi, Swami Anand founded the Gandhi Ashram in 1931. It soon became a centre of Gandhian activities in the region and was, during the Non-cooperation Movement, confiscated by the British authorities.

Later life[edit]

After Independence, Swami Anand took an active interest in agriculture and agrarian issues. He was concerned about agricultural productivity and livelihoods in India but had deep respect for the practical wisdom of small farmers across India. He was inspired by George Washington Carver and Robert Oppenheimer, whose biography he wrote. From 1957 till his death in 1976, he made the Kosbad Agricultural Institute at Dahanu, near Mumbai his home.[12]

Literary career[edit]

Swami Anand was a polyglot, proficient in Gujarati, Marathi, Sanskrit, Hindi, Urdu and English. He was acquainted with the classical and folk traditions of the Gujarati, Marathi and Sanskrit languages and was influenced by the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Max Muller, Walt Whitman, Sri Aurobindo and Swami Vivekananda. Besides fiction, Swami Anand also wrote on issues of science, religion and society.[1] Some of his works in Gujarati include the novels Ambavadiyun and Amaratvel and a compilation of correspondence between him and Gandhi's colleagues are contained in the Ugamani Dishano Ujas and Dhodhamar, all edited by Dinkar Joshi.[13] The works Dharthinum lun, Santona Anuj and Naghrol are biographical reflections while Anant Kala is a meditation on nature and spirituality. He also wrote extensively on the Upanishads, the Sarvodaya Movement and also produced a travelogue based on his travels in the Himalayas.[1] Swami Anand's Kulkathao, a series of pen portraits of people from the Bhatia caste, won him the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1969, but, he refused to accept the award due to his vow not to accept any monetary benefits for his writings.[3][14] Gujarati writer and translator Mulshankar Bhatt has collected his best of the character sketches and published as Dharati Ni Arati. He sketched the character of those people who had created a deep impression in his life. Some of the popular characters are Ghanima, Mahadev Desai, Vamandada, Dr. Mayadas. [15]

A biography of Swami Anand was written by Chandrakant Sheth[16] and he is the central character in Sujata Bhatt's poem, Point No Point.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Lal, Mohan (1992). The Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature (Volume Five (Sasay To Zorgot), Volume 5. New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi. pp. 4253, 4254. ISBN 9788126012213.
  2. ^ "Autobiography". Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  3. ^ a b Nagendra, Dr. (1988). Indian Literature. Delhi: Prabhat Prakashan. p. 333.
  4. ^ Venkatraman, T. (2007). Discovery of Spiritual India. Jersey City: lulu.com. p. 139. ISBN 9781435704725.
  5. ^ a b "Gandhiji's Associates in India". Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  6. ^ "Chronological Sketch of Gandhi in Bombay". Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  7. ^ Meghani, Mahendra. Gandhi – Ganga (PDF). Mumbai: Mumbai Sarvodaya Mandal. p. 21.
  8. ^ "THE STORY OF MY EXPERIMENTS WITH TRUTH by Mohandas K. Gandhi". Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  9. ^ "Autobiography". Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  10. ^ The Bhagavad Gita According to Gandhi.
  11. ^ "Bhagavad–Gita introduction by Gandhi". Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  12. ^ Patil, Jayant (1996). Agricultural and Rural Reconstruction: A Sustainable Approach. Ahmedabad: Concept Publishing. pp. 146–153. ISBN 9788170225898.
  13. ^ "Dinkar Joshi". Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  14. ^ Amaresh Datta (1987). Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature: A-Devo. New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi. p. 298. ISBN 978-81-260-1803-1. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  15. ^ Solanki, Vipul (2016). "Chapter 2:Critical Appreciation of Vyathana Vitak (The Afflicted)". A Translation of Joseph Macwan's Vyathana Vitak from Gujarati Into English with a Critical Study (PDF) (PhD). Rajkot: Saurashtra University. p. 12. hdl:10603/130572. Retrieved 2017-10-20.
  16. ^ Sheth, Chandrakant. Swami Anand: Monograph. Sahitya Akademi Publications.
  17. ^ Bhatt, Sujata. "Point No Point" (PDF).